Ubuntu is my connection to my community, I am because we are, but also to the land in which my community lives, to my ancestors in that community, to my descendents in my community, every plant, tree and rock in my community. I am like a tree anchored in my community, my roots buried deep into the ground, hungry for the life-giving food and water of my community. Deposit me in Detroit in USA, or Hull in the North of England it is like ripping a tree out of the ground and dumping it in the sea, I am unrooted, I die.
After Chernobyl the authorities evicted tens of thousands of people and deposited them into distant cities, a people ripped away from their native land, suffering extreme social and psychological problems that some preferred to risk the dangers of radiation by returning illegally to their former homes.
The UK-based Guardian newspaper today reports on the animist Guarani-Kaiowá indigenous tribe in Brazil, 34 times more likely to kill themselves compared to other Brazilians. Ranchers and biofuel farmers deprive the Guarani-Kaiowá of their native lands, to quote:
“The Guarani people think their relationship with the universe is broken when they are separated from their land. They feel they are a broken people.” Many in the community cosmologically interpret their situation as a symptom of the destruction of the world.
I follow the stories of many animistic hunter gatherer people, the story is tragically universal and repeated across the world:
“Many other indigenous communities in the world, including the Tiwi Islanders in Australia, Khanty herders in Siberia and Inuits in Greenland, have unusually high suicide rates. Anthropologists say this is closely linked to the loss of land, which is often followed by social disintegration and economic dependence on charity and state handouts. The result is often alcoholism inside the community and racism outside, which leaves the young – in one man’s words – “stuck somewhere between a past they don’t understand and a future that won’t accept them”.”
In Europe two indigenous people still survive, the enigmatic Basque people, who passionately and sometimes violently defend their culture, and the Sami in the extreme north of Europe. Both cultures, in my small way, I will support.